How to get great food service

Of course, being polite goes a long way. But there is more you can do to ensure exceptional service every time you visit a restaurant, whether it’s your neighborhood Olive Garden or James Beard’s new “exceptional” restaurant. We’ve asked waiters across the country to share their pet peeves so you can avoid inadvertently ordering spit on a plate the next time you go out to dinner.

1. Call ahead with special requests

We all have a birthday that we would like to make special, or an ingredient that should be avoided (whether true or false). Lauren, who served tables in Myrtle Beach, SC, suggests that those patrons call the restaurant ahead of time with their request. “Ask consultatively if there is anything they can do to accommodate you,” she says. In addition, “always ask for the name of the person facilitating your request – people feel more responsible when they feel identified”. Most of the time, that can translate into a better table, a round of mixed drinks, or an entree from the chef, she says.

2. Keep in mind that the customer is not always right

While most waiters work hard to accommodate special requests, remember there’s always a chance you’ll hear “no,” says John, a waiter from New York. “If you are so particular that you can barely function in a public place, you should cook for yourself,” he warns.

3. Don’t question your server’s competence

This offense can take many forms, explains Vicky of New York. “Don’t ask me to ask the chef if he’s sure [about something listed on the menu]”I’m sure of it,” she said. If you’re dining at a restaurant with international cuisine, trust your waiter’s pronunciation. Vicky remembers how in an Italian restaurant where she once worked, a woman incorrectly corrected her pronunciation of al dente: “That’s what I said: aldilante. “

4. Know what you want and where you are going

This is especially important if your server is busy, or you are. “Don’t force your waiter to chat mindlessly on a busy night,” says Jennifer from Pittsburgh. Need more time to decide on your entry? Ask the waiter to come back. And if you’re in a hurry, let us know. “Tell me at the start of the meal, not at the end,” says Jennifer; that way your server can get you in and out within a reasonable time.

5. Clean up after your kids

A waiter is not your housekeeper, or your nanny. Being aware of any mess your kids are making throughout the meal can go a long way in earning points with your waiter or waitress. Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, Carolina spent a summer waiting for tables at a popular restaurant chain in the mall. “Because I was the beginner, I got stuck with all the tables with kids and babies,” she recalls. “Now that I’m a parent, the memory of taking care of these tables sounds like it was yesterday.” So now she does her best to keep her children’s messes under control when she has dinner with her family. “I always find the waiters appreciate it,” she says. “I know I would have done it!”

6. Never forget: waiters are people too

“We might be having a good day or a bad day, which can impact your service,” says Michael from San Diego. “Having empathy and treating us like a person is likely to provide better service.” Simple gratitude goes a long way, folks.

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